Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But I grew up in a town called Republic. It’s located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A.K.A. the REAL God’s Country.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I was originally born in Norfolk, Virginia. Moved when I was 6 to Michigan. Attended a small school. Graduated high school with like 13 kids in my class.
Family, I have two younger brothers and an older sister. They’re seriously my best friends. We’re all super close. After high school I went to college on and off and took on media jobs at radio stations and television stations, so I could work my way up the ladder to enhance my resume. After that I went into print journalism and filmmaking. I’ve been a filmmaker since I was a kid, so it’s always something I hold near and dear.
I played some baseball in the higher levels for a short time. But after realizing I wasn’t good enough to continue it further, I returned to filmmaking and journalism.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I currently have a television show that is being picked up in 2018, called LAND OF THE OUTLAWS. It’s a post-apocalyptic western. My partner and I call it a ‘Junkhouse Western’. Sort of a new genre we created here. I can’t say too much about it without getting in trouble, but I can say that we shot the pilot already and it’s packed with good action, likable and even love-to-hate characters and is something unlike anyone has ever seen. My team and I are very excited to be entering the next steps with it.
This winter I’ll be directing my first feature film, which I also wrote. It’s about dog sledding drug runners. The name will be announced this summer.
As for my debut novel, THE SONS OF SUMMER, it’s been selling quite well and people are responding great to it too. I’m blessed and am just thrilled I could finally share this story that I’ve worked so hard to tell for so long.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Sounds cliche as hell but the stories. I just love telling and seeing all sorts of stories. As long as I can remember, I always loved listening to them from parents, friends, family, etc. I was a Dungeon and Dragons geek back in the day, so that was something that kind of opened my eyes to storytelling.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was hired for my first sports writing job. It was for the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan. From there I just kind of went down the sports journalism path as a possible side career, all while still working in film and television. But yeah, I’d say my first print journalism job is when I started to call myself a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
It’s a mix of a few things. Short version, I couldn’t get the feature film off the ground. Once I got over what happened in failing to make it a feature, I realized the most important thing for me to do was tell the story, and it didn’t matter much what platform I chose to tell it on.
How I came up with story was basically because of my love for baseball. My brothers and I were introduced the game by our father by the time we were old enough to walk. It’s all we ever did was play and develop our skills, and our father was a big part of that.
In all honesty though, what kicked my ass in gear to start writing it was because of a small moment in my youth. To this day I remember it vividly. I was 9 years old in Little League and my old man was my coach. I was a catcher, which continued to be my position throughout the years. We were playing the best team in our league. They were good. We were mediocre at the time. Their players were absolutely huge. Most questioned if they were even 12 years old. It was thought they were well into their teens. Who knows. I hit a bases clearing double that brought in two runs to put us ahead of the opposing team in the Top of the 9th by a single run. When the opposing team went to bat in the Bottom of the 9th, their best player, a mammoth of a boy that looked more linebacker than third baseman, hit a triple after two previous outs. Now I was small in size, but a very quick catcher. I wasn’t afraid of anything, and I knew our own pitchers well, so my old man felt confident with me behind the plate. At that point in my youth I took a back seat to the 11 and 12 year olds of my team, who were undoubtedly the stars that year. But when the next batter took to the plate, we all knew this last out could seal the unforeseen victory. After an 1-2 count, the batter nailed the ball over our shortstop’s head. The left fielder hurriedly scooped the ball and relayed it to his cut-off (our shortstop) who fired it into home to me. The mammoth runner on third base was chugging home full speed. I received the ball and sweep-tagged him just in time for the final out as he was going in for a face first slide. My old man came running out of the dugout towards me, surrounded by the rest of the team in triumph. He grabbed and held me high and hopped up and down as we and any fans in the stands cheered on. That was my moment, and although there would be many moments to follow, THAT particular moment I’ll always cherish.
My old man never rewarded my brothers and I, and to this day still doesn’t, but on that day we celebrated the upset win because… it was beautiful.
That moment is in the book, although written somewhat differently. But it’s those special times in your life as a boy and beyond with your father you remember. Good or bad, fathers have an impact on their children that stays with them the rest of their lives, whether they want to believe it or not. I wanted to create a story revolving around that.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Originally, it was called THE BOYS OF SUMMER, but there’s already a book with that same name, so I changed it. In the long run it worked out better that I was able to change the BOYS to SONS, because in all actuality the book has to do with sons and their fathers. So SONS makes way more sense.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
It took me a while to really find my voice when I first started. But after I did, I was rolling. There was so many writers I studied– novelists, screenplay writers, sports writers– that I tried to use them as guides. Which in a way is a lot like filmmaking. Most styles you see are just spinoffs of other artists. So what I did was use my favorite writers as guides and from there just developed my own style. It was challenging, as you would expect, but I wanted so bad to be a writer and craft my stories that I made it happen. Plus, it was fun and kind of therapeutic, not just writing, but researching!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’d say about 40% of it is based on experiences in my life and stories about other people from where I grew up in and around the area. My first best piece of writing advice came from old man, when I was a teenager. He’d say “write what you know.” Which made a lot of sense to me. Baseball I knew up and down. I know the game, the strategies, situations, etc. more than most people, so I wanted to incorporate that into THE SONS OF SUMMER. I wanted to bring a flavor to the game that people haven’t seen. When you read the game scenes, they’re written like action, which keeps the pace going and the reader engaged, and doesn’t let them break away. Man, I love it.
The main family in the book, the Daltons, are based off my family. The brothers are based off myself and my real brothers. The mom and dad are based off my own parents. Are the characters exactly like them? No. I took some creative liberties and used myself and my family as a base and just kind of developed them from there.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Depends on the story. For my current published novel, no.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I was lucky enough to collaborate with my publisher’s cover artists. I knew exactly what I wanted. They knew what they wanted too, so we kind of came to a middle ground on what would be the final proof. The baseball park in the background was taken at Homer Stryker Field, which is home to the Kalamazoo Growlers. They’re an independent baseball team. That particular picture you see on the cover was taken during a scouting trip for the film originally.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Actually, my favorite reads are ones that can interpreted different ways. With mine, you can take it in a variety of meanings. The story is laid out, yes, it’s about relationships between fathers and sons, as well as the glory and demise of small town America. However, when you read it you’ll see it’s not all black and white. I would hope the readers take more away from it then what is laid out for them, because there are small hints and symbolic meanings throughout that could force readers to interpret the ending very differently.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I don’t know about new, but making the jump from screenplay to novel, I followed in the footsteps of great writers like the late Michael Blake (DANCES WITH WOLVES) and others, who I can’t think of, who I deeply admire.
My favorite writers would have to be Buzz Bissinger, Cormac McCarthy and Matthew Bondurant.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
There’s many, but I would have to see my best friend Kenyon. He was essential to the growth of it. He was my proofreader and seen this story evolve throughout the years. When I told him I was adapting it into a book platform, he didn’t bat an eyelash and just asked “When are we getting to work on it?”
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It already was and continues to be a career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. It took me years to craft and mold this story and play it over and over and over in my head and on paper before I felt 100% good about what was finalized. You know, when I finished this book I promised myself to never have regrets in life anymore. And this book was the start of that, so… No regrets!
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
That writing a book is way more fun than a writing a screenplay. Writing a screenplay you have to really cut down on your vision to meet the requirements of the genre or entity your writing for. I mean what you end up seeing on the screen is vastly different than what was originally written, anway. You only have so many pages to set up your characters and plot points and arc. But with a book, you have much more freedom to really expand your story and develop at your own pace.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Well, when it was almost made into a film we had Donald Sutherland attached as the lead. But if it ever gets to that point again, I’d want someone like Josh Brolin to play James Dalton. He just has the look and swagger of my old man.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
If you have a story you want to tell and are passionate about it, then don’t quit, no matter how many times you get rejected or how many obstacles get in your way. Just keep going. Keep fighting. Keep believing.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
THE SONS OF SUMMER isn’t just about baseball. Even if you don’t like sports, you will enjoy this book. Everyone can relate to the story in one way or another. It’s quite nostalgic.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Just finished ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac. I’ve wanted to read it since forever. Loved it! Just started reading READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline. I definitely want to finish it before I check out the movie.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Probably something by Dr. Seuss. The first one I can remember that struck a chord in me when I was young was WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS by Wilson Rawls.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My brothers and my old man make me laugh. Whenever any of us get together we can’t stop laughing. We’ll keep adding onto stupid memories, stories or jokes. Some raunchy, some not. Mostly raunchy though!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Willie Mays. Played center field for the San Francisco Giants (formerly New York). He was a baseball hall of famer, legend, etc. When I was a kid we used to see old clips of him on ESPN Classic. When I played ball I tried to mimic his moves in the field and at the dish. My dad, my grandpas, uncles, they all used to speak about his greatness. He could do it all. The original five-tool player. He’ll be 87 soon, so hopefully I get a chance to see him in the near future!
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I’m a kid at heart, I still love collecting baseball cards. Been doing it since I was like five years old. I write all the time. Even if nothing comes of it. I just love to write. I love hiking with my dogs and taking road trips. Actually, I’m chomping at the bit to get a motorcycle and travel across the country!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Many! I have to get my THE WALKING DEAD and GAME OF THRONES fix on Sundays for sure. Other than that, STRANGER THINGS and THIS IS US. Favorite films of all time are probably FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, THE DEER HUNTER and A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Favorite foods is anything my mom makes. Colors… would… be… we’ll go with orange and black since we’re talking about THE SONS OF SUMMER. Music I love everything. Anything that gets me pumped up or inspired. If I had a normal go-to it would have to be The Beatles, of course.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Well, it would definitely have to be something productive. You know, the older I get I start to realize helping others is more important and fulfilling. For so long I’ve always just thought of my career and what I need to do to get to this point for myself, etc. Just a bunch of Me’s and I’s. And while that is important, it also doesn’t make me feel complete, you know? So I don’t know what exactly, yet, I would do, but I would hope it was something selfless and something that would help others to grow and put their own stamp on the earth.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my family of course! Have a catch with my brothers and my old man, reminisce about memories with them all, crack a few jokes that make my eyes water and eat my mother’s homemade Pasties (Yooper delight).
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
That’s a good question… Hmm… Okay, I’ll give her a try: “I’ve been there, done that, seen everything, failed some, succeeded some, laughed until I cried, cried until my tears fell dry, rubbed elbows with the best and have loved and have been loved. Now I’m tired… so I think I’ll take a nap.” How’s that??
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter @michaeldault and Instagram @michaeljdault and if you want to know more about my upcoming series you can go to www.landoftheoutlaws.com or follow it on social media!